by Don Winslow
sa•to•ri noun /sə-’tôr-ē/
: Sudden enlightenment ; a state of consciousness attained
by intuitive illumination
This is an old school espionage thriller written by a new school author. Intended as both a tribute and prequel to Trevanian's cult classic Shibumi (noun: effortless perfection ; unobtrusive beauty), Satori follows Nicholai Hel, an assassin that’s part Bond, part Bourne, part Natty Bumppo (aka the last Mohican), and part Cain from the TV show Kung Fu – but all parts awesome.
The story opens in the throes of the Korean War. After three years of solitary confinement, Nicholai’s captors are offering to release him – but at a price. The CIA needs the Soviet Commissioner to Red China dead (old school!). They need a killer who can infiltrate communist Beijing, and won’t be missed when he doesn’t survive. They need Nicholai, an assassin searching for satori – or so they assume.
Beautifully written and executed, Winslow succeeds at not only capturing the spirit of Trevanian's tale, but also at breathing new life into his beloved hero.